Ricks' Win Helps Lead USC To Team Title At Pepperdine XC Invitational

    Sept. 1, 2016

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    The USC women's cross country team opened its season in style by winning the Pepperdine Invitational (4K), led by a first-place finish for Madison Ricks and a fourth-place finish for Amber Gore at Alumni Park in Malibu, Calif. today (Sept. 1). The victory was USC's first overall win since the 2014 season when it defeated UCLA in a Dual Meet and Ricks was USC's first individual champ since Katerina Berdousi won the title at USC-UCLA Dual Meet two years ago.

    The five-team meet was actually scored as dual meets with each school with USC the overall winner, defeating CSU Bakersfield 17-41, Long Beach State 19-37, Pepperdine 19-36 and UC Irvine 25-30.

    "Today was a good productive day," said USC cross country coach David Freeman. "The course was a little trickier than we thought when we first got here, but our young women navigated the course pretty well. Looking at the results, Madison (Ricks) ran really well, especially the second half of the race and Amber (Gore) ran really well, too. Some of the new people also stepped in and filled some gaps for us like Chloe Berry and Maria (Ibarzabal). Of course, Mikaela (Smith) ran pretty well, too. We are heading in the right direction. This is just a starting point. We are just trying to get the rust out of the way and get back to training tomorrow and used the next two and a half weeks to get ready to compete at Riverside in our next meet."

    The redshirt sophomore Ricks won by more than eight seconds with a time of 15:14.37, with Gore close behind in fourth with a time of 15:26.05. Gore went to the lead by the midway point in the race and was joined shortly by Ricks and they ran 1-2 most of the second half of the course, then Ricks pulled away from the top four runners down the stretch.

    Sophomore Mikaela Smith had a strong second half of the race to finish seventh overall with a time of 15:52.81. Taking 10th place overall was freshman Chloe Berry with a time of 16:04.29. Another newcomer, redshirt senior Lorea Ibarzabal placed 13th with a time of 16:16.10. USC's other freshman making her Trojan debut was Kamryn Weber and she placed 32nd with a time of 17:27.38.

    "I think it is a good start because we have a lot of freshman and sophomores so they don't know how it used to be, as to not being competitive," added Freeman. "I think we are changing that mindset and this is a good starting point. We won the meet and hopefully we can keep that snowball effect going, and our confidence starts building up and we'll see where it takes us."

    USC's next meet will the UC Riverside Invitational in Riverside, Calif. on Sept. 17.